Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace to you and peace as we begin a new chapter in the life of St. Mark’s. It is September, the time of year when church programs begin again. It is also a turning point for us since the renovation project has been completed and we can begin to use our building in new ways.
This summer a group of us have been praying the question: How do we pass on the faith to our children and youth? The group concluded that God was asking us to return to an every Sunday morning Sunday School for all ages. That will begin on October 1.
The group has wrestled with the questions of why we have moved from a large-scale vibrant Sunday School program in the 1960’s to the situation today where less families are attending St. Mark’s and the pattern of attendance at worship has moved from every Sunday to 1 to 2 times a month, at best. We prayed about the question of whether God is using a different model to invite people to love God and to follow the ways of Jesus. We were unable to discern whether or not God was calling us to do something new. We were able to hear that there is enough interest and desire on the part of some of our families who want to have Sunday School every Sunday.
I approach this question – How is God calling us to pass on the faith that we have received? - with two prepositions. First, everyone communicates what they believe through their words and deeds, and what you do is communicates far more strongly than what you say. So, for example, a person may say “Jesus is Lord.” If, however, and a person never asks Jesus what to do when a decision needs to be made but instead only asks family and friends for their advice, they clearly trust their friends more than Jesus. Or, to use an example from the Bible:
Those who say, “I love God,” and hate a brother or sister are liars, for those who do not love a brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. ~ 1 John 4:20
The point is that faith—what you most deeply believe—is always being communicated. Whether or not that faith is anything like the faith of Jesus is another matter entirely.
Secondly, and more importantly, I presume that the Holy Spirit is ALWAYS at work, inviting us into a deeper, closer relationship with God, with one another, and with ourselves. The Holy Spirit uses a variety of methods, people, and experiences to issue these invitations. In fact, these invitations come to us daily but all too often we fail to recognize them because the Holy Spirit delights in working in new ways and unpredictable ways.
Therefore, the questions that God is inviting each one of us to answer is:
What is the faith, that which I most deeply believe, that has been handed down to me?
Which part of that faith is true? Which part of that faith is a lie?
What is the faith that I communicate to others?